06/01/2009, 00.00
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Pyongyang ready to test launch another inter-continental missile

The launch will take place within the next two weeks from the eastern military base Musudan-ri. Members of ASEAN and South Korea issue a joint communiqué urging the North to “avoid ulterior provocation”. The communist regime orders a stop to shipping in the Yellow Sea.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korea is readying for the launch of another intercontinental ballistic missile (Icbc), capable of hitting the United States.  Satellite photos reportedly show North Korea moving a long-range missile towards its launch site in Musudan-ri on the east coast of North Hamgyong province, with experts saying it could be ready for launch within a fortnight.

The missile launch would be part of the so-called “self-defence measures” announced by Pyongyang, ahead of fresh sanctions from the United Nations Security Council.  Recently the UN condemned the nuclear test and short range missile launch carried out by the North’s communist regime.  “If the UN Security Council makes a further provocation, - a statement issued by the state news agency KCNA reads - it will be inevitable for us to take further self-defence measures”.

The United States and Japan are seeking a toughening of sanctions against the North; the Obama administration has also decided, in agreement with Japan’s premier Taro Aso, to deploy F-22 fighter-jets to the southern base in Okinawa. Beijing has halted the visits of all representatives to the North and blocked visas for North Korean diplomats.  The move was announced by the South Korean news agency Yonhap News, saying the move was Beijing’s answer to Pyongyang’s tests last week.

South Korea and the 10 member states of ASEAN – association of South East Asian nations – are working on a joint communiqué regarding the North Korean nuclear question.  The document will be published today at the end of the summit, taking place on the South Korean island of Jeju, and exhorts the North to “avoid ulterior provocation and respect the sanctions imposed by the United Nations”.

Finally Pyongyang has imposed a ban on navigation in the central and upper Yellow Sea, along the nation’s western coast.  In the past North Korea has often sealed off its waters for military exercises.  International analysts underline however the unusual length of the ban, that will remain in vigour until the end of July.  Informed sources explain that the “ban” may indicated that a further “provocation” from the North “will arrive” from that very sector.

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